Welcome and value unique experiences

Staff Editorial

Those who were able to talk to Ron Himes, Founder of the Saint Louis Black Repertory Company, while he was on campus, were given a unique experience this week.

With only one week to practice, a cast of 10 Eastern students performed a show that they produced with Himes’ help. He also gave a talk during his stay.

Theater majors who worked with Himes were able to learn a lot, and really connect with someone prominent in their field.

According to an article in The Daily Eastern News, they even started calling Himes “Uncle Ron.”

He challenged them, as seen by the fact that Himes gave them only 15 minutes to put together their monologues on the first day of rehearsal, and the fact that the students only had one week to practice for the show.

But he also encouraged them to share their art with others. This is especially important since the topics covered during the students’ show surrounded issues that are prominent in today’s society.

These kinds of experiences are incredibly valuable to students, both as performers and people continuing to learn their craft.

Last weekend’s performance also shows how art can provide a meaningful dialogue when it pertains to social issues that we deal with and see around us every day.

We often see topics such as police brutality, for instance, in the news and discussed on social media. But seeing them in a theater context can help shed new light on them and make sure these problems and the people affected by them do not end up as just another headline or another incident in our minds.

Centered around racial inequality, homophobia, xenophobia and rape culture, students in the show did a great job of making all of these issues seem more real to the audience. Making artistic decisions, such as the one to place the picture and name of an African-American who lost their life because of police brutality, like this, students made their stories shine.

It would be great if Eastern is able to bring people like Himes in periodically to help share their perspectives and expertise on a multitude of topics. Hearing from people who are successful in their fields and who know what they are doing is something that could benefit all students. They can make connections that will help them personally and professionally.

As one student who participated in the shows said, even after she graduates, she wants to do an internship at the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, where Himes works.

Hopefully, students remember this experience as they go on in their college and professional careers.